SKY NEWS FIRST EDITION
TUESDAY, 27 OCTOBER 2020
SUBJECTS: Victoria; ASIC; Federal ICAC.
LAURA JAYES, HOST: Let's go live now to the Shadow Minister for Regional Services, Territories, Local Government, the Shadow Minister for Housing and Homelessness too. Jason Clare joins us live now. Thanks so much for your time. Now you're a Sydney-sider like myself, it is really hard to get your head around what Melbourne has been going through over these last 111 days. This lockdown doesn't end a moment too soon, does it?
JASON CLARE, SHADOW MINISTER FOR HOUSING AND HOMELESSNESS: Not if you're in Melbourne, not if you've had to live in lockdown for all that time. You're right, if you're from Sydney or Canberra where I am right now, it's very hard to appreciate just how hard it is. I picked up the phone the other day to speak to a friend of mine in Victoria who's lived through it, who's had the virus. The husband who's got advanced cancer has had the virus, two twin little girls got the virus, her older son got the virus, her mum got the virus, her dad got the virus and her mum was on a ventilator in hospital. She's lived through all of that plus all of the difficulties of raising kids when you're trapped at home for an extended period of time and that's just one story. It's been very, very hard, but it's worked. At a time where you flick on Sky News and you can see the virus is flooding Europe, smashing against the UK and the US. They've managed to do it and bring it down to zero for a second day in a row. So it just shows what an incredible job that the people of Victoria, and in particular the people of Melbourne, have done.
JAYES: Yeah, absolutely Jason Clare. In recent months, it has become quite fraught, the argument has become quite political. We've seen Daniel Andrews throw some of that criticism back on his federal opponents. Do you think there has been a willingness by some to really run a bit of a protection racket around Daniel Andrews? Has he come in for some pretty genuine criticism that's been warranted?
CLARE: Laura, I've always thought, I've always said, that being a Premier is the toughest job in the country. Tougher than being Prime Minister. Premiers run the services that we all rely on and when the you-know-what hits the fan, they're in the middle of it, they're the ones who've got to clean it up. Say what you like about Dan Andrews, but he stands up every single day, answers every single question, set up an inquiry to dig into what went wrong to make sure that it doesn't happen again. He's got the tough job here and the actions that he's taken with the advice of health professionals have helped us sort it out. Remember it was only two months ago that Greg Hunt said that it wasn't likely or achievable to get under five a day rolling average. That was wrong. They've done it and that's not just because one politician was in charge. It's because of a whole community that's taken steps to do it.
JAYES: Well someone was in charge of hotel quarantine though, weren't they?
CLARE: And obviously that was a stuff up and mistakes were made. The virus got out, they had to track and trace and get it. What's important is to make sure that that doesn't happen again, and to make sure that you get a second wave under control. You only need to look at what's happening overseas to realise this thing can take off like a rocket. It did in Victoria, no one wants that to happen again, and I would suggest that the experience that's been hard learned over the last few months will put them in good stead for the future.
JAYES: James Shipton, head of ASIC, can he survive?
CLARE: This is all about the best use of taxpayers’ money. Ultimately what we do in this building is about making sure we spend taxpayers’ money wisely. What you've got is a situation here where taxpayers’ money is being used to provide someone with over 100 grand worth of free tax advice. The Deputy Chair got, I think it was 70 grand worth of taxpayers’ money to move house from Melbourne to Sydney. I think most people watching the program today would say that that's a waste of taxpayers’ money. It just reeks of waste. The Government needs to make sure it's spending money wisely.
JAYES: Is this waste, Jason Clare, made even worse because it is coming from a body that's meant to oversee governance, such as ASIC?
CLARE: Absolutely. It's the watchdog and it's wasting taxpayers’ money but it's not unique to ASIC. We saw last week the waste of taxpayers’ money with $5,000 watches being handed out at Australia Post. Every day there's either another example of waste or another scandal like we've seen with sports rorts or with $30 million being spent on a block of land with $3 million. There are so many scandals, so many rorts, so many examples of waste even the COVIDSafe app could find these scandals and these rorts and this waste by this government.
JAYES: One final question, Helen Haines will put a Private Member's Bill forward for her own version of a federal ICAC. Will Labor support it, particularly the element that would see retrospective examinations?
CLARE: Mark Dreyfus has said that we think Helen's got the principles right. We're going to take that Bill for consideration by Caucus. But what I'd also add is there is another Bill that's in this building. It hasn't been presented to the House of Representatives yet but it should be. It's the draft Bill that the Government prepared last December. The Government should just table that and allow the community to look at it. Anybody that thinks that corruption doesn't exist here in Canberra isn't looking for it. I saw it when I was the Minister for Home Affairs, I saw it at Sydney Airport where Customs officials were using their authority to get drugs into the country. The body that helped to crush that was ACLEI, it's a good body. I expanded its remit, the Government is expanding it still more. That's a good thing but there's a hell of a lot more we need to do. We need a body that's going to cover every department, every agency and all the politicians here as well. Only if we have a body like that are we going to do enough to make sure that we stamp out corruption wherever it occurs.
JAYES: And should powers be retrospective?
CLARE: It's something that we need to seriously look at. You can't have that conversation when we don't have a draft Bill to look at, and that's why we've said the Christian Porter, what we've said the Scott Morrison is you can't use the COVID crisis as an excuse for not tabling a Bill that you've already got. Table the Bill, let us have a look at it. Let the debate begin.
JAYES: Jason Clare, appreciate your time.
CLARE: Thanks, Laura.
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